For as long as I can remember, there has always been a Western Influence on R&B and Rap artists. While most of these artists are Black, real Black equestrians are still left out of the creative process. In most instances when producers hire horses to complete the western aesthetic, the owners are typically white. I've seen many Black artists visit ranches or equestrian facilities that are white owned. It’s disheartening because I’m not sure if they know we (Black equestrians) actually exist in our own spaces.
I’d like to use this moment to inform you all that I'm actively searching for land of my own to start a farm. This farm’s purpose is to be a home to Saddle Up and Read as well as my academy, Ardent Horsemanship. Our youth need more positive spaces to learn, feel safe, and freely create. They need an environment which nourishes their higher self. Or at least put them on a solid path to get there. Think back to when you were younger. Could you have used a mentor? Someone to advocate for you and your ideas? More resources? I know I needed all of it!
Our youth also need to see what Black land ownership looks like. Did you know, "Between 1910 and 1997, African Americans lost about 90% of their farmland?" My own family is included in this number. I personally see the value in land ownership because I witnessed it being sold. Which absolutely crushed my spirits knowing I didn't have the income to buy it. I hope you support me in this journey of land ownership. In part of my vision I want some of the youth to be hired to bring horses on set for music videos, movies, photoshoots and any other approved high paying entertainment.
The Yee-Haw agenda is going steady like a gaited horse. Earlier this week I woke up to an article about Beyoncé’s newest Ivy Park release. Everyone looked amazing! Even actor Glynn Turman and his granddaughter, Melinda Siegel, were featured. I wish to see more opportunities to work alongside Black artists open up for Black equestrians. I feel we are sometimes represented without being included behind the scenes or on the scene. Crazy how Black equestrians went from dominating the Kentucky Derby to being looked over and hidden today. Whew, we need to find ways to be more visible. But seriously, when Black artists partner with Black equestrians the outcome is a masterpiece!
Just look at the music video F.U.C.K. by Victoria Monet. Do you know who her stunt double was? A BLACK EQUESTRIAN!! Who just so happens to be my friend, Chanel Rhodes. Psst, she is the creator of Mane Tresses- whimsical hairpieces for horses. Some people really thought it was Victoria Monet riding the horse but she was 9 months pregnant at the time y'all. That baby would've been born in mid gallop. Chanel Rhodes was hired to ride the horse but the horse brought in was owned by a white man. While I do not know what measures go into finding the horse owners, I do know there seems to be a silent narrative that assumes we don't have the capacity, knowledge or skill to fit the bill. But we do!
So how does all of this tie in with Black land ownership? Glad you asked. Kids and adults from real life to Twitter strangers, start conversations about how they never knew the facts about Black farmers or Black equestrians. When they see Black people and horses, it's usually in "costume" like the artists I mention above. It's not the lifestyle we are associated with. Even though we are here.
I am changing that narrative. I want my kids, my younger cousins and their friends to understand the value of land. While the cost of land has skyrocketed, there is more value to it than those numbers. Growing up, I had the pleasure of waking up to neighs in the sunrise. Seeing my horses out of my bedroom window. I could walk from our house to our barn. I could have a garden without worrying about HOA. I could sit criss-cross applesauce in the pasture and just admire my horses as they grazed. I could walk around barefoot, breathing in the energy of earth through my feet. Those experiences were my lifestyle.
It is my plan to give similar experiences to our youth and in harmony with the guidance, resources, and support they need. It would be amazing if today's artist would come together to help me purchase my own property. I would definitely wear Ivy Park Rodeo to the grand opening, HAHAHA!
12 times Black artists have explored western themes:
1. BEYONCE!!! It’s only right to start with her. Really hope she sends me and my homegirls the Ivy Park Rodeo Collection
2. Tobe Nwigwe in his video "RIDE"
3. Will Smith's 1999 "Wild Wild West" performance on MTV
4. T-Pain in his latest video "I Like Dat"
5. Lil Nas X - It all started with "Old Town Road"
6. Meg The Stallion- Cowgirl hats & fringe 24/7
7. Victoria Monet- See music video above
8. Cardi B- She tried out ranch life this past February. Watch here
9. Isley Brothers- I am too young to know why this photo happened LOL
10. Stevie Wonder- He was at a press conference. "Isn't She Lovely" was a #1 hit!
11. Lizzo- I would really love to see her create a music video in collaboration with plus sized equestrians. Their voices need to be heard too!
12. Ciara- She always looks amazing!
PS: You can watch the open letter video I made to Beyoncé by clicking here